This was different from the bread baking class I took at King Arthur Flour last fall. For one thing it was only an afternoon, not 4 days of baking. For another, this was mostly a whim. I don't have any deep seated longing to make the perfect macaroon but I do have an affinity for bread.
So, this class was fun. It was also a lot harder than it looked. There are a lot of steps to making French Macaroons. It didn't take me long to decide that this wasn't something I was going to be doing at home!
There were 6 of us so the first thing they did was split us into three teams. Each team got to pick their flavor; we chose orange. At the end we got samples of all three flavors we made so it didn't really matter.
The first step was to made the macaroon. It sounds simple; mix together almond flour, confectioner's sugar, regular sugar and egg whites, beat the heck out of it. But, don't beat it enough and they won't hold their shape, beat them too much and they'll be too dry and break apart. Our expert instructors kept us in line and told us when we were at just the right point.
Then we put the mixture in pastry bags and again under careful guidance and instruction, squeezed the dough onto parchment lined baking sheets. It really wasn't easy! The danger was moving the pastry bag before you stopped the flow of the dough so you ended up with a little point or a swirl or a lop-sided wafer. Squeeze, stop, THEN move. It definitely took practice!
While the macaroons baked we made the ganache, the filling for the cookies. And again, this had to be mixed to the right consistency and then refrigerated for awhile or it didn't stay on the cookies and oozed out everywhere. The other groups made pistachio and coffee ganache; they all tasted yummy and looked pretty too!
We squeezed the ganache carefully onto the cookies, put the top half of the cookie on the bottom half, and ta-da! A French Macaroon! We all got an assortment of cookies to take home. Most of mine went in the freezer but they didn't stay there long. I managed to eat them all with only a little help from Lee.
Finesse offers other classes too, on making croissants, puff pastries, eclairs, and other French delights. I get hungry just thinking about all these baked goodies....